Impact of the use of offshore wind and other marine renewables on European fisheries
marine spatial planning - offshore wind parks
What is the general impact of the development of marine renewables on the European fishing sector? In our study, we answer this question, highlight pathways for possible co-existence solutions and research gaps and provide concluding policy recommendations.
Background and Objective
The proliferation of offshore renewables, such as offshore wind farms, is a key pillar in the global transition to a carbon-free power sector. The expansion of offshore renewables varies greatly across the European seas and is accompanied by an increasing conflict potential with other marine sectors, such as fisheries.
This study aims to provide an overview of the general impacts of the development of offshore renewables on fisheries in European sea basins. Furthermore, it highlights pathways for possible co-existence solutions for both sectors, a description of good practice examples and lessons learnt, research gaps, and policy recommendations.
Politics, Fisheries, Renewable energy
The research focusses on an in-depth spatial overlap analysis between the present-day fishing effort by fleet and the current and future spatial expansion of offshore renewables in European seas based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data.
Further, we defined the concepts of co-existence, co-location and co-operation, and subsequently synthesised the lessons learnt from representative cases from the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands.
A standardised literature review allowed us to summarise the current knowledge on the impacts of offshore renewables on fisheries and to identify respective knowledge gaps.
Our Research Questions
- Which are the main affected fisheries in the different European waters?
- What are the main existing research gaps, and the potential benefits of closing these gaps, for the co-existence of fisheries and aquaculture activities and the development of offshore wind farm projects?
- How can co-existence solutions of both sectors look like?
- Which possible mitigation measures exist?
- Which potential synergies can be provided by promoting interaction between offshore wind farms and fishing activities (including aquaculture)?
- Which policy recommendations can be provided to the European Parliament based on the analysis and the present knowledge on
- possible measures and actions with regards to existing and potential future conflicts;
- possible measures with regard to possible synergies, stemming from the common use of maritime space by the fisheries and the renewables sector.
- The exploitation of offshore renewable (OR) resources varies greatly in size and capacity across the different European sea basins, whereby the spatial expansion until 2025 suggests a sharp increase of spatial conflict potential in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Mediterranean over the next five years.
- The current and future cumulative OR development affects mostly trawling fleets targeting mixed demersal species and crustaceans, whereas the composition of fishing effort varied greatly across fleets at individual planning sites.
- European-wide standardised monitoring programmes would provide currently unavailable ecological and socio-economic data (i.e. indirect costs of lost fishing opportunities), which are needed to assess the general cumulative ecological and socio-economic effects of OR expansions.
- An integrative framework is proposed to clarify and mitigate the effects of OR on fisheries (e.g. by creating transparent guidelines on the expansion of OR, early stakeholder consultation, the involvement of independent third parties or compensation payments), and to facilitate best practice guidance for marine spatial planning and the co-operation among marine users.